PORT MORESBY - As an Australian, I am embarrassed and saddened with the Australian government's disdain toward our Pacific neighbours in a variety of contexts.
A visitor’s visa for Australia can be processed in under two days, but only if you happen to have been born into a select group of countries throughout the world where the eVisitor or ETA (electronic travel authority) applies.
If you are one of Australia's nearest neighbouring countries, you are expected to wait for 21 to 34 business days (4-7 weeks).
This is simply an admission of failure on behalf of Australian immigration. There is no justifiable reason for a tourist visa to take so long.
This is what the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea states on its website:
"It is easier and quicker than ever before for PNG citizens to apply for a visa to travel to Australia.... Processing times for complete applications lodged on-line average 7 days or less, facilitating ease of movement for all visitors including tourists and business people."
I wonder if this is actually the case?
The PNG online visa application link advertised on that fact sheet is broken, and has been for some time, so I doubt this claim.
The link simply states that "www.immi.gov.au is currently unable to handle this request".
Considering PNG is able to manage a free tourist visa on arrival service for Australian citizens, I wonder how hard it would be for the Australian government to simply open up the $20 sub-class 601 or free sub-class 651 visas to PNG citizens.
This would allow Papua New Guineans to join the other 30 plus countries currently enjoying the fast turnaround service, instead of demanding a $145 fee for each Papua New Guinean in the sub-class 600 visa.
Similarly, I wonder how hard it would be for a prime minister to actually make "step up" a step up, rather than another embarrassing display of hollow rhetoric.